Maritime Volunteer Service

Patron: H. R. H. Prince Michael of Kent

East Sussex Sovereign Harbour Unit

A Company limited by Guarantee No. 3003565. A Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 1048454 and in Scotland SC 039269. Registered Address: International Business Centre, Delta Crescent, Warrington, WA5 7WQ

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Updated 10/05/2017


PRESS RELEASE  21st February 2016

SITA supports MVS  training vessel refit

The Eastbourne-based Maritime Volunteer Service (MVS) training vessel East Sussex 1 has been docked in a Newhaven boatyard for a major refit, thanks to a £42,161 funding boost from SITA Trust. Keith Johnson, Head of Unit at MSV Sovereign Harbour, said “We are very grateful to receive this support from SITA. This funding will enable us to carry out planned refurbishment on East Sussex 1, allowing her to operate for many years to come for the benefit of Eastbourne and the surrounding area. The vessel is crucial to our youth training programme which, for several years now, has seen Scouts, CCF cadets and other youth groups gain valuable initial sea experience and training. SITA’s support has been a life saver!"

Marianne Ivin of SITA Trust added “SITA Trust provides grants through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.4 billion.”

East Sussex 1 is a 58 ft ex naval 'Kiwi' class steel hulled launch built in 1972. She is a beautiful robust little ship that represents a high point in the standard of British Shipbuilding and still performs a useful function today. Recently MVS volunteers sailed the vessel round to Newhaven where she has been brought ashore at Cantells Boatyard for extensive work, including replacing sections of hull steel.

MVS provide people of all ages with access to new skills and enable employment and leisure opportunities. Operating from Sovereign Harbour, East Sussex 1 has a particular role in taking youth groups to sea. The vessel now needs extensive work to the hull and bulkheads to keep her in first class condition and to continue to comply with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency's certification requirements.

The MVS plans to have East Sussex1 back in service in April, ready for a full Summer programme including, once again, evening training trips for Scouts and also a longer trip along the South Coast, enabling the MVS volunteers to hone their skills. Mr Johnson stressed that new recruits are always welcome at Tuesday evening  training sessions at the Unit's headquarters behind the Waterfront at Sovereign Harbour. Anybody interested can phone 01323 768998.

1. The MVS is a UK-wide charity which has as its motto “We change lives through training and serving local communities”. To achieve this objective it recruits Volunteers from all walks of life, provides afloat experience to youth organisations and supports port and river authorities around the country. HRH Prince Michael of Kent is the charity's royal patron.


2.  East Sussex 1 is the MVS's national training vessel. The Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne-based Unit is responsible for maintaining her.

3. When the Dunkirk Little Ships returned to the French port last year to mark the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of the British Army from the beaches, East Sussex 1  was the largest of the escort vessels.

4. The MVS was formed in 1994 by former members Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (RNXS) who wished to continue to put their skills to good use. The RNXS operated small ships such as fleet tenders and inshore minesweepers and ran Naval Control of Shipping centres ashore but was disbanded following the end of the Cold War.

5. While many of the best aspects of RNXS operating procedures and traditions survive in the MVS, it is emphatically a civilian, but uniformed, charity whose vessels fly a privileged Red Ensign. However cordial links with the RN continue at many levels, including with the University RN Units. There are many ex-RN members in the MVS. But the MVS recruits people of all backgrounds and there is no need for previous nautical experience. The minimum joining age is 18 but there is no maximum age limit.

For more information contact David Hughes (07381 909481) or visit the MVS website. http://www.mvs.org.uk or the East Sussex Unit's Website http://www.mvs-eastsussex.co.uk/